First appearing in June 1898 in The Ides of March, published in Cassell's Magazine, A.J. Raffles was a gentleman thief created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, E.W. Hornung, created in part in response to Doyle's famous creation, the detective Sherlock Holmes. From an upper class background, Raffles saw himself as a gentleman thief, stealing only from those he deemed deserving and committing his crimes more for the thrill than for the money, although he nevertheless used the money to finance his expensive lifestyle. Until his eventual public exposure as a criminal, he was a famous amateur cricketer, granting him a celebrity status in society circles that gave him access to the homes of potential targets. His friend, assistant and chronicler was former school friend Harry "Bunny" Manders. Hornung eventually killed off Raffles, with the former thief dying heroically in service of Queen and Country during the Boer War.
Several subsequent writers have used Raffles in new stories, sometimes as the star and often as a guest, in many cases reviving him post-Boer War and revealing the account of his demise was faked by Manders. He has been frequently teamed up with or pitted against Sherlock Holmes, and some of the earliest Raffles pastiches suggested that Holmes married Raffles' daughter (never mentioned in the Hornung stories), making the gentleman thief Sherlock's father-in-law.
Raffles made his comics debut in 1943's All-Winners Comics #8, where his safecracking skills assisted the Whizzer. Much later he was depicted as a member of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the early 20th century, where he was given the first name Anthony, perhaps in honor of actor Anthony Valentine, who played Raffles in a BBC series in the 1970s; in the original novels, most of Raffles friends merely used his surname, and his initials were given: A.J. it was not until the short story An Old Flame that A was revealed to stand for Arthur.